There Was Confusion Yesterday At Both Chambers Of The National Assembly As Lawmakers Fight Over Share Of Committee Leadership
Confusion ensued yesterday at the two chambers of the National Assembly as lawmakers disagree over the allocation of committees’ leaderships with aggrieved senators criticising the President of the Senate, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, describing his composition of the 65 standing committees as illegal and unacceptable.
At the House of Representatives, tempers flared as two members exchanged hot slaps following disagreement over juicy committees’ leadership Following the rift over appointments of members to chair various standing committees in the House of Representatives and taking a new turn, a member, Hon. Ahmed Kaita who belongs to the “Loyalists” yesterday stated that no attempt made by anyone will remove the House Leader Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila from his position.
While speaking with journalists after an All Progressives Congress (APC) Caucus meeting, the law maker angrily said that the Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara will only have a smooth ride in the House if he aligns himself with the party’s wishes and that of the President, Muhammadu Buhari.
“I am very furious about the lies going on and I cant control my anger, reason because the APC as a party has given Dogara a clear cut instruction five days ago and he was to report Back to the party by Monday, but on that Monday and it was the same Monday he decided to flout the rules of the party.
“Yesterday, while we were having a meeting in the national headquarters, text were flying by the same group of people that do not want APC to succeed in this house, that Gbajabiamila is going to be removed today, and the actually planned it. “So we came and they couldn’t do anything, because they know we hold the party and we have the majority and as long as the House is going to be dictated by PDP, we will resist it.
“If Dogara wants us to be with him, fine and good, he is one of our own, and we don’t have any problem with been with Dogara. “Only if he can align himself with our party manifestos and the wishes of Mr president, he will have a smooth ride, because he has majority in the house, but as long as he will be flouting the orders of the party and as long as he will be instigating some unscrupulous members to say that they will removed preferred candidates offices holders of the party , we will resist him, this is just a mess, “Kaita said.
The Chief Whip of the House, Hon. Alhassan Ado- Doguwa also speaking to journalists said the meeting was to address the ongoing misunderstanding amongst the APC members in the House. “You are all aware of what happened yesterday , where the honourable speaker invited and chair a special session of the house of representatives to inaugurate the standing committees. “I want to tell you on behalf of the leadership, that the leadership has no crack as far as am concern, as am talking to you honourable Dogara and the leader of the House are in the same room, the office of the Speaker discussing, trying to see how we can moved ahead, “he said.
According to him, Nigerians are tired of waiting emphasising that they were elected to work as members of the House of Representatives. Commenting on Gbajabiamila, he said, “Femi as leader is also on statusquo, we have maintained status-quo for now, and Femi is our leader in the house of representatives.
“Speculation made earlier on that there is any move, whatsoever to remove Femi as leader, is unfounded is not from the leadership, is not from the APC and I also want to tell you that this morning I had a very close consultations with the leaders of the party, specifically senator Lawal Shuaibu who is the deputy leader of the APC in Nigeria and we have told that there is no cause for alarm in the house of representatives and we are moving as one.
“There is no two way about unity, this party was founded on the basis of unity and the house of representatives as it is today is very much poised and ready to work with President Muhammadu Buhari to deliver the change mantra we have promised Nigerians, “Doguwa told journalists. Meanwhile at the APC caucus meeting, two members namely; Hon. Herman Hembe and Hon. Aliyu Du’a were reported to have exchanged hot slaps over the issue of “juicy” committees. However, it took the intervention of the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yussuff Lasun to bring the matter to an end.
Hembe who emerged as the chairman of the House Committee on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is considered to be chairing a Grade A committee also referred to as a “juicy” committee.
There was a mild drama on the floor of the Senate yesterday, as Senator Kabir Marafa and other aggrieved senators attacked the Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, describing his composition of the 65 standing committees as illegal and unacceptable. Marafa argued that the creation of an additional eight (8) committees was a violation of Section 100 of the Senate Standing Rule and some sections of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
However, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, argued that Marafa was not competent to declare an act of the National Assembly, particularly the Senate null and void. Trouble started at the Upper Legislative Chamber shortly, after the Votes and Proceedings of the last sitting (Wednesday, November 4) were approved by the Senate.
Thereafter, Marafa raised a pointof- order in which he challenged the recent composition of the Senate committees by Saraki. Marafa, who asserted that tyranny has taken over the Senate, urged Saraki to apologise to Nigerians for his “abuse of the Constitution”, and for increasing the number of committees beyond the statutory provisions. He cited a number of provisions from both the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Senate Standing Rule, and submitted that the committees’ constitution and compositions should be reversed as they cannot stand the test of the Law.
According to Marafa, the committees that were put together by the Senate Selection Committee, which was chaired by Saraki, were null and void because it was not duly constituted in accordance with the provisions of the Standing Order. He also asserted that the failure of Saraki to comply with Section 100 of the Rules, which provides for Senate approval of the committees before they can go into operation, has also nullified the efforts of the Senate Selection Committee.
He bitterly complained that seniority was neither considered nor was there fairness in the distribution of roles as provided for in Order 1 and 3(2:1-4) of the Senate Rules in the composition of the committees. Besides,, Marafa noted that contrary to Order 97(1-7), the Selection Committee has overshot the specified number of the Committees from 57 to 65, without recourse to the red chamber for amending the relevant sections accordingly.
“What we are witnessing today in the National Assembly, and the Senate in particular is legislative tyranny, where impunity wants to be the order of the day. Laws are meant to be respected, and if we can treat our Order with impunity, then, we have no business being here. “There is no committee. They are not legally constituted, and they cannot function.
Any further action is unacceptable to Nigerians, and I have discharged that responsibility,” he said. Marafa had hardly rounded off his speech when several hands were up, apparently to make their contributions in favour of the matter in question, but Saraki simply thanked Marafa for his observations, and urged the Selection Committee to take note.
Dissatisfied by the Saraki’s ruling, Senator Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi, who is Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs in the newly constituted committees, made frantic efforts to recall the matter for discussion. “This is one of the three issues that we are contending.
We are blowing the whistle, educating those that do not know, and then, throwing light on those areas that we feel require Nigerians to know. “A very serious constitutional and legal breeches that border on integrity of the Senate and the constituted committees (have) been raised, and I think it should not be swept away like that,” he pointed out.
But he was shut down by the Senate President with Order 64, which forbids any recall of matters upon which a ruling has already been given. Addressing the Senate correspondents, after the Plenary Session, Marafa, who is also appointed to chair the Senate Committee on National Identity and National Population and deputise in the Committee on Sports, described the 65 committees as Saraki’s committees.
“If the Senate President goes ahead to inaugurate the committees, I expect Nigerians to charge him for contempt,” he said. While also addressing the Senate correspondents, after Marafa did, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi argued that Marafa was not competent to declare an act of the National Assembly, particularly the Senate null and void. Abdullahi further submitted that Marafa was part of the whole House that approved the Votes and Procedures of the last sitting.
Abdullahi, who observed that the approved Votes and Procedures contained the list of the newly constituted committees, maintained that Marafa could not describe the list as unapproved. “The Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, November 4 were approved today, and the approval contained the issues he (Marafa was) raising.
And it is very clear that the composition of committee leadership was part of the Votes and Proceedings. So, I don’t know what approval he is looking for. “As far as the Senate is concerned, we have approved the chairmen and vice chairmen of the 65 committees. I want to believe that the issues raised by Senator Marafa are not new at all.
“It is just a repeat of what we have seen in the past. The issues he has raised cannot be far from the leadership issue, which you are all very familiar with,” he said. Abdullahi, however, urged all the aggrieved senators to sheath their swords and work for the progress of the country.
-Teddy Nwanunobi and Dyepkazah Shibayan, Abuja